I consider myself (among other things) an environmentalist. Environmental issues really concern me, so I try my hardest and do my best to make my global footprint as small as it can possibly be. But being “green” is more than just recycling and using reusable tote bags at the grocery store (although both of those things are very important and I do both religiously.)
Being green is also about making healthy choices for your family that also have a low environmental impact. Examples–I only use “green” products to clean my house with, not just because it’s better for the environment but because I don’t want my family breathing in all of those chemicals and toxins that are in a lot of your basic home cleaners.
Well, in the new book Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano the author addressed the issue of beauty. As she says, we spend hours on our beauty regiments every day, not realizing that we are lathering up and rubbing our skin with toxins morning, noon, and night.
“One product alone is unlikely to cause harm, but repeated exposure to these chemicals can eventually lead to health problems and environmental problems.” So I headed to our bathroom to see what I could find.
Uliano gives you a Cheat Sheet of what she calls “Red Alert” chemicals to look for in your products. She said that products with any of these in them should be thrown out right away. She also gives you a list of “Orange Alert” chemicals that she says you could go ahead and finish using but shouldn’t buy any more of either.
So I printed off the cheat sheet and headed to our bathroom. I just decided to get rid of everything on the “Red” list and the “Orange” list. I gathered all of the stuff from all of the bathrooms and sat it on the counter. After dumping things down the sink (not probably the greenest thing I could have done) I had the bottles lined up on the edge of the tub to go to the recycling bin. Here’s a view of everything that I had to get rid of…
Kind of scary isn’t it? And this picture was taken before I was even finished going through everything.
I won’t bore you with a list of the chemicals that I found and what they cause but here are a few examples.
Aluminum was in both mine and the Golfer’s deodorants. It is listed as a carcinogenic, toxic, and mutagenic. It has also been linked to Alzheimer’s. Yep, uh, I wasn’t about to take a chance with any of those. They went straight in the trash.
The other big one that I found in almost all of our products–especially our shampoo, conditioner, lotions, and hair products–were Parabens. Parabens are chemical preservatives that are estrogenic and disrupt normal hormone function.
When I told the Golfer that, trying to be funny smiled at me and said, “Oh…so that’s why…” Uh, yeah, I really wasn’t laughing.
Women of the blogosphere here me now–“Exposure to external estrogens have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer.” Uh, yeah, again I’m not taking any chances. Out they all went. (You’d be shocked how many things have Parabens in them that we use every single day.)
The other biggie is Fragrance. “This ubiquitous term is used to mask hundreds of ingredients, including phthalates, with disrupt the endocrine system and could cause reproductive and developmental harm.” And we wonder why so many women of are generation are having reproductive issues? I’m not saying that the “fragrance” chemical listed on the back of your shampoo bottle is the lone culprit, but do you want to take the chance? Yeah, me neither.
So after recycling all of the bottles of all of the stuff that I threw out, I headed of to buy new. Luckily for me, there’s a Whole Foods just down the road that offers a lot of green, earth- and people-friendly products.
It wasn’t the cheapest thing that I’ve ever done, but I know that as a mother it is my duty to keep my family safe and healthy. The deodorant has taken some getting used to, and my shampoo doesn’t really lather up the way that I’m used to or smell quite as good. But I’ll forgo the lather now to still have both of my boobs and a sound mind when I’m an old lady.
But that’s just me…
Last thought…in case you are thinking, “But yeah, there’s not a store where I live that sells green beauty products” or “I don’t have the time to look on the back of all of the bottles”, Uliano gives you many websites that sell green beauty products online. Her product suggestions aren’t always the cheapest ones, but hey, it’s a place to start.
Even if you can’t thow every thing out at once like I did, try to make the effort to slowly replace some of your regulary used items to greener ones. Your body will thank you for it later.